I love the city of Barcelona. There's something about wandering around in a big bustling city...even when you're on your own, you never feel alone. So what do you do when you travel solo - I mean REALLY solo, not part of a tour group or press trip as many bloggers do? You just have to enjoy yourself. It really is that simple. Do what YOU want to do; I mean, really, who do you have to answer to?
Don't worry about an itinerary. There are many touristy things to do in Barcelona, such as the City Sightseeing Bus, which takes you all over the city and stops at all of the main points of interest. Angeline and I did this when we traveled to Barcelona in 2013, and you really can spend an entire day exploring the main historical attractions very easily this way! You can also book tours through your hotel concierge or through companies like Viator; they're my favorite and I use them often because their app is so easy to use while on the go.
Or...skip the historical attractions all together and experience what it's like to be a Barcelonian. This is the route I took during my last trip. Life has been rough for me the past year and I set out on the cobbled, uneven streets of Barcelona in search of something other than the Picasso museum: I was searching for a way back to myself.
I spent a great deal of time in Placa Catalunya, the main square near the Gothic Quarter and La Ramblas, just watching people feeding the pigeons and soaking up the atmosphere. I had no one to answer to, no schedule to keep...I sat down and ate a sandwich I'd bought in a cafe with the locals, chatting as much as I could in my limited Spanish - thankfully, so many Barcelonians speak English, it made it so much easier for me!
With each boutique, each glass of sangria, each gelato, I began to feel more and more at home in Barcelona. I spent my days wandering through winding alleys, taking photos and just immersed myself in the city. I sat at tiny tables eating pinchos. The Sangria is sooo good. So, so good!
I bought a new gauzy dress that will remind me of this trip each time I wear it. I found a simple feather ring in a tiny silver shop and fell in love. Did you know that feathers are a sign of luck? It matches the feather earrings I bought at a Christmas Market in Germany perfectly - I don't usually wear matching jewelry but I made an exception because it's just perfect!
My first night in Barcelona, I was determined to go out and socialize. I'm not shy, so why was I sitting at the hotel lobby bar alone on a Thursday night? I threw on my jacket and headed out to explore the local nightlife. If you aren't familiar with the nightlife in Barcelona, you should know that people don't typically eat dinner until later - I found most restaurants didn't serve dinner until 9 or 10 pm!
I wandered into an Irish pub - a REAL Irish pub - and within minutes, made friends with a retired Irishman, who happened to be an Art History Professor. We discussed so many things about the museums in Barcelona that at the end of the conversation, I felt like I'd already seen them! We even spoke about a statue by Jaume Pensa that we'd both seen that day that had recently gone up nearby.
He introduced me to the other regulars at the bar and by the end of the evening, the owner told me that my money was no good there, I had a date for the next evening with a funny, sweet expat who lived there, and he offered to walk me back to my hotel...which was really just down the street, and we weren't in a bad neighborhood, but it was such a nice gesture.
I was hesitant at first, but the bar owner vouched for him and my gut told me that I didn't have to worry about him being ungentlemanly...and I was right. We shared a little kiss and he didn't press the issue of joining me for a nightcap. There are NICE single men left on this earth, ladies. I know, I know - I'm as shocked as you are!
I spent my day on my own, caught up on a little work, went shopping, and tried a burger at a cute little hamburger joint down the street. I never did make it to the Picasso Museum, but I am pretty sure that I will make time for it on my next trip!
The next evening he took me to his favorite bars and to the beach (which wasn't very memorable considering the only source of light was the moonlight). He may or may not have played Tom Petty's American Girl for me on his guitar while we drank a glass of wine on his rooftop, overlooking the city...it was pretty romantic! This was the first guy I've been out with since my husband and I split that was near my age (he was actually a few years older), and it kind of renewed my faith in men my own age. So, maybe they aren't all looking for 22 year olds...and they certainly know how to treat a woman! If only I could meet a guy like that back in the states, I'd be one happy girl.
I went to Barcelona with a list of things to see: the Picasso Museum, the Cathedral, everything Gaudi...and I spent the entire two and a half days just wandering, exploring the city, soaking it all in...and I found that the single life really isn't all that scary. Sure, it can be lonely at times, but being on my own has opened up so many opportunities for me to meet amazing people that I would have never spoken to or taken the time to get to know, if I were still married...
When I stepped onto the Carnival Vista that Saturday, I was ready to set sail alone...I was even excited about it! But that? That's an entirely different story, for another day...and I can't wait to tell it!